Asanda Mnakaniso is a patient man, and he has embodied that trait as he's now on the verge of earning his first major trophy in his coaching career.
Mnakaniso guided the University of Fort Hare (UFH) to the semi-final of the Sasol League National Championships at first attempt in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
The Eastern Cape debutants won both matches in Group B, beating Royal Wizards 4-2 in the first match before brushing aside Lindelani Ladies 1-0 in the second.
“I am very proud of the girls. I think the province is also proud because we are here to support them,” an elated Mnakaniso said after his team reached the semis.
The two wins didn’t only give UFH a dream breakthrough in the competition, but they put them a match away from qualifying for the Super League next campaign.
But be that as it may, reaching both the final at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium and eventually winning the title and cheque of R200 000 on Sunday, remains the ultimate dream for UFH.
And while that would earn Mnakaniso his first major recognition as a coach of women’s football it wasn’t all well, having started his career at the Walter Sisulu University.
However, having worked his way up and ranks including joining UFH in 2018 before being appointed as the head coach in 2020, Mnakaniso had to be patient.
That act of patience hasn't only seen Mnakaniso guide the team to the national finals in two years, but it’s what made him fall in love with his job in the first place.
“I don’t really know the reason for what inspired me to coach women’s football. But I know that it requires patience, and that’s something that I major in,” Mnakaniso said.
Sure, it was patience that has made Mnakaniso rub shoulders with the record-breaking Banyana Banyana Desiree Ellis in the City of Roses this week, but Mnakaniso is a selfless man.
Mnakaniso is grateful to teams such as the Super League outfit Thunderbirds Ladies, his bosses and a varsity counterpart for helping them to prepare for this event.
“Those teams have helped us in terms of game fitness. There were other teams that were also willing to help us. So, we are fit for the games,” Mnakaniso said.
“Our university also brought us here a day before we were accommodated by Safa. So we were able to rest. We met with the University of Free State, and they gave us a training ground.
“So, they also helped us. I don’t want to lie, we are getting the support. It’s amazing. Some of our bosses are also here with us as well.”
The UFH bosses are not only in Bloemfontein to show face, but they’ve vouched to continue throwing their weight behind the team despite what happens going forward.
UFH’s Dean: Student Affairs Division, Lufuno Tshikhudo, has also urged the province to endorse women’s football especially if they join Thunderbirds in the Super League.
“We want to represent the university and province. We must ensure that these kids continue to play knowing the university and province supports them,” Tshikhudo said.